New guidelines could mean fewer breast exams - CBS46 News

New guidelines could mean fewer breast exams

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New guidelines recommended by the American Cancer Society could mean fewer breast exams for women.

The organization suggests postponing annual mammograms until age 45. They also say women over 55 only need to be screened every other year, rather than annually.

Doctor Jane Meisel, an oncologist with Emory Healthcare, said she believes the new guidelines are based on good data, especially the new recommendation that younger women wait to begin screening.

“Part of the reason for that is that a lot of false positives tend to be seen in those earlier years,” says Dr. Meisel.

However, Dr. Meisel cautions that patients should really discuss their individual risk for breast cancer with their physician to determine when mammograms are appropriate.

“All these guidelines are really just guidelines,” says Dr. Meisel. 

Critics of the new recommendations fear women will be discouraged from screening or that insurance companies may be less likely in the future to cover mammograms. 

Breast cancer survivors like Janel Green are also concerned.

“We [want to] make healthcare prevention more accessible, not less accessible for people and I think women can be very vulnerable to that,” said Green.

Green was diagnosed on New Year’s Eve of 2012 and her doctors scheduled her for a double mastectomy.

“I went into surgery being told that I was stage one and that surgery alone would probably be enough and I came out of surgery stage 3 and being told it was in ten of my lymph nodes and I was going to need chemo and radiation on top of everything,” said Green.

Detection was difficult in Green’s case due to the shape of her tumor and her age. She was just 43.

But doctors will tell you cancer doesn’t care how old you are.

“Patients I [the] clinic range in age from 24 to 88,” said Dr. Meisel. 

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